1. PUTTING GOD FIRST
a. What place should God have in our life? What about our other relationships? Matthew 22:37–39.
“When the Spirit of God is in man it leads him to relieve rather than to create suffering. . . . We are to care for every case of suffering, and to look upon ourselves as God’s agents to relieve the needy to the very uttermost of our ability. . . . There are some who manifest great affection for their relatives, for their friends and favorites, who yet fail to be kind and considerate to those who need tender sympathy, who need kindness and love.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 52.
b. What promises do we have when we put God before any human tie? Matthew 19:29; Hebrews 13:5 (second part).
“If you have to forsake father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife, and children for Christ’s sake, you will not be friendless. God adopts you into His family; you become members of the royal household, sons and daughters of the King who rules in the heaven of heavens.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 510.
2. HELPING OUR FAMILIES AS WELL AS OTHERS
a. Where should we begin our work for Christ? Proverbs 22:6; Isaiah 8:18.
“In forming a relationship with Christ the renewed man is but coming back to his appointed relationship with God. . . . His duties lie round him, nigh and afar off. His first duty is to his children and his nearest relatives. Nothing can excuse him from neglecting the inner circle for the larger circle outside. . . .
“As parents faithfully do their duty in the family, restraining, correcting, advising, counseling, guiding,—the father as a priest of the household, the mother as a home missionary,—they are filling the sphere God would have them fill. By faithfully doing their duty in the home, they are multiplying agencies for doing good outside the home. They are becoming better fitted to labor in the church. By training their little flock discreetly, binding their children to themselves and to God, fathers and mothers become laborers together with God.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 223.
b. If Christ abides in us, how will we treat others? Isaiah 50:4.
“He who is a Christian will have kind words for his relatives and associates. He will be kind, courteous, loving, sympathetic, and will be educating himself for an abode with the family above.”—My Life Today, p. 196.
c. What can we learn from the example of Jesus in His ministry when tempted to focus all our attention within our own family? Luke 19:10.
“We must put self and selfishness under our feet, and exemplify in our lives the spirit of self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence manifested by Jesus when He was upon earth. All should have an interest for their relatives, but should not allow themselves to be shut up to them as though they were the only ones whom Jesus came to save.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 77.
3. NOT BENDING OUR PRINCIPLES
a. What is the reason we are health reformers today? 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 10:31; 2 Timothy 1:7; Isaiah 7:15. Why will we not change our health practices when we meet with friends and relatives?
“Those who elevate the standard as nearly as they can to the order of God, according to the light God has given them through His word and the testimonies of His Spirit, will not change their course of action to meet the wishes of their friends or relatives, be they one or two or a host, who are living contrary to God’s wise arrangement. If we move from principle in these things, if we observe strict rules of diet, if as Christians we educate our tastes after God’s plan, we shall exert an influence which will meet the mind of God. The question is, ‘Are we willing to be true health reformers?’”—Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 35, 36.
b. How are we meant to live a Christian life? 1 John 3:18; Matthew 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:12. What danger do we face when we change our practices in order to please our ungodly relatives?
“Many feel that they must make some concessions to please their irreligious relatives and friends. As it is not always easy to draw the line, one concession prepares the way for another, until those who were once true followers of Christ are in life and character conformed to the customs of the world. The connection with God is broken. They are Christians in name only.”—Messages to Young People, p. 432.
c. How does God call us to behave when we are outside of the church? 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18; Titus 2:14.
“The reason we have had so little influence upon unbelieving relatives and associates is that we have manifested little decided difference in our practices from those of the world.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 289.
“In the presence of your relatives and friends, in all your business relations, in your associations with the world,—anywhere and everywhere, under all circumstances,—stand up for Jesus.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 341.
4. STANDING FIRM IN OUR DECISIONS
a. Instead of being influenced by worldly friends and relatives, how should we make our decisions? 1 Corinthians 11:1; James 1:5; Psalm 119:105; Galatians 5:24.
“You allow the words of your relatives and special friends to influence your propositions and affect your decisions. You credit them too readily and incorporate their views into your own ideas and are too often led astray. . . . Your judgment, your feelings, your views, influence them, and, in turn, they influence you; and a strong current will be set flowing in a wrong direction unless you are all humble and thoroughly consecrated to God.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 506.
“The precious lives God has given us are not to be molded by unbelieving relatives in a way to please the carnal mind, but to be spent in a manner which God can approve.”—Ibid., vol.4, p. 236.
b. What responsibility has been given to parents regarding their own children? Proverbs 22:6. How can friends and relatives hinder this work?
“Be careful how you relinquish the government of your children to others. No one can properly relieve you of your God-given responsibility. . . . Men and women should pay all the respect and deference due to their parents; but in the matter of the management of their own children, they should allow no interference, but hold the reins of government in their own hands.”—Child Guidance, p. 288.
c. What warning is given to those who do not maintain their Christian principles wherever they are? James 1:6 (second part), 8.
“May God give every man a sense of his own personal helplessness to steer his own vessel straight and safely into the harbor. The grace of Christ is essential every day. His matchless grace alone can save our feet from falling.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1109.
“Never yield the truth to please anyone. Be decided, be fixed, be established, be not of a doubtful mind.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 266.
5. A SPECIAL WORK
a. What work is there for those who live in divided homes? 1 Corinthians 7:12–14, 16.
“We receive many letters soliciting advice. One mother says her husband is an unbeliever. She has children, but they are taught by the father to disrespect the mother. She is deeply burdened for her children. She does not know what course she can pursue. She then expresses her anxiety to do something in the cause of God, and inquires if I think she has a duty to leave her family, if she is convinced she can do no good to them.
“I would answer: My sister, I cannot see how you could be clear before the Lord and leave your husband and your children. I cannot think you would feel that you could do this yourself. . . . I am sure that it must be your duty to care for your own children. This is your field where you have your appointed work. . . .
“Because Satan uses the father of your children to counteract your work, do not be discouraged; do not give up the conflict. Do as you wish them to do. Treat your husband with kindness at all times and on all occasions, and bind your children to your heart with the cords of love. . . .
“This makes your work plain, to let your light shine in the household where Satan is at work to secure your children to himself. . . . Talk not and plead not for the sympathy of your husband and your children, but simply live the life of Christ. In words, in spirit, in character, in meekness, in patience and forbearance, in cheerfulness, be a signpost pointing out the way, the path that leads heavenward.”—Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, pp. 44, 45.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. If we love God supremely, how will we treat others? Who will we be careful not to neglect?
2. To which group of people do we owe our first duty? Is this our only duty?
3. How can we have a positive influence on our unbelieving relatives?
4. Who should hold the reins of government over the children? Why?
5. What missionary work is there for a parent who lives in a divided home?